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The iconic Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi is among several properties owned by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.


Fairmont closes Norfolk and other hotels indefinitely over COVID-19 uncertainties

NAIROBI, Kenya May 28 – The effects of COVID-19 are becoming a reality by the day.

On Thursday, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts which owns the iconic Norfolk in Nairobi, said it is closing its hotels indefinitely and will fire all the staff due to uncertainties of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Due to the uncertainty of when and how the impact of the global pandemic will result in the business picking up in the near future, we are left with no option but to close down the business indefinitely,” a memo to staff signed by the Country General Manager, Mehdi Morad, said.

All major hotels in Kenya remain closed temporarily since March when flights were suspended and major restrictions imposed by the government to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The Fairmont memo to staff said the decision to close the business indefinitely had taken into consideration various demands by employees which, the Country General Manager said, are out of reach for the company in the prevailing circumstances.

“It is therefore the decision of the management to terminate the services of all its employees due to frustration by way of mutual separation and taking into account the loyalty and dedication the employees have put into the success of our company in the previous years,” Morad wrote in the May 27 memo.

Staff were advised to collect their termination letters June 5.

“Employees will be entitled to one month’s pay in lieu of notice,” he said and assured them of their pension.

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Fairmont is a global brand that operates in various countries.

In Kenya, it operates The Norfolk, Fairmont Mara Safari Club, Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club among others.

The closure of the operations in Kenya comes amid calls from the private sector for the government to re-open key sectors so as to rescue the economy.

Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta hinted at plans to re-open the economy when he pumped some Sh53.7 billion into various sectors.

He is expected to make a key announcement by June 6, on expiry of the six-week dusk to dawn curfew.

He will also announce the fate of the cessation of movement into and out of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale and Mandera which was extended for a further three weeks on May 16.

COVID-19 cases are on the increase in Kenya, with 123 positive cases reported on May 27, the highest on a single day which raised the tally to 1,471 and 55 fatalities.

Globally, there are 5.6 million cases with 356,000 deaths.

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